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Poland's Conservative President, Andrzej Duda, Takes Office

  • Associated Press

Poland's new President Andrzej Duda speaks during his inauguration ceremony at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, August 6, 2015.

Poland's new President Andrzej Duda speaks during his inauguration ceremony at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, August 6, 2015.

Conservative Andrzej Duda was ceremonially sworn in on Thursday as Poland's new president, bringing political change to the top office in this East European nation.

In his first speech as president, Duda, 43, promised to pay attention to the needs of the underprivileged. As supreme commander of Poland's armed forces, he said he was especially concerned about the nation's security in the face of a resurgent Russia.

"We need a greater presence of NATO in this part of Europe," Duda said.

He vowed to press for more NATO security guarantees at next year's NATO summit in Warsaw. He called his program Newport Plus, in reference to a summit in Wales last year that decided on a rapid reaction force in the region, which is still being formed. Duda insists that is not enough.

Within the European Union, he vowed to make a "correction" and speak with more authority on Poland's goals and needs, in order to make them clearer to political partners.

A former member of the opposition Law and Justice party, he appealed for mutual respect and cooperation. He will have to find ways to work alongside the liberal coalition government of Civic Platform and a small farmer party.

Duda was sworn in before the National Assembly of lawmakers and senators at the Parliament building, in the presence of the government and of his predecessor, Bronislaw Komorowski. Duda's wife, Agata, was standing by his side. His parents and daughter also were present.

Duda's electoral victory in May over Komorowski was a surprise, and a warning to the ruling coalition that it may lose power in October general elections.

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